SERVE Act Would Create $1,000 Tax Credit for Volunteers

The Supporting Emergency Responders Volunteer Efforts (SERVE) Act (S. 932/H.R. 2488) would create a $1,000 income tax credit for bona fide members of volunteer firefighting and emergency medical service organizations. The SERVE Act, which is one of the National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) legislative priorities, is designed to help local volunteer emergency services agencies recruit and retain personnel.

More stringent training and certification requirements mean that becoming a volunteer emergency responder involves a greater time commitment than ever before. In many parts of the country, six months of night and weekend training is required before personnel can respond to emergencies in any capacity. By providing a financial incentive for people to volunteer as emergency responders, the federal government can improve public safety locally while building national preparedness capabilities.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) there were 768,150 volunteer firefighters in the United States in 2010, a reduction of 44,000 from 2009 and the lowest number on record going back to 1986. Additionally, the average age of firefighters in communities served predominantly by volunteers has been increasing steadily. In communities with a population of 2,500 or less, 28.7 percent of firefighters were over the age of 50 in 2010, up from 18.7 percent just 10 years ago. The number of firefighters under the age of 40 in those same communities is down 28,437 (13.5 percent) over that same period of time.

S. 932 was introduced by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and H.R. 2488 was introduced by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY).  Contact your U.S. Representative and Senators  using the NVFC’s Capwiz service and ask them to co-sponsor the SERVE Act today!